Trial Opens in Florida Widow’s Suit Against Tobacco Firms

February 4, 2009

A closely watched lawsuit against tobacco companies filed by a Florida widow is going to trial in Broward County.

The Fort Lauderdale proceeding is the first such case to go to trial since the Florida Supreme Court in 2006 threw out a record $145 billion class-action verdict. The Supreme Court said each case would have to be decided individually and about 8,000 have since been filed.

The high court did uphold the original jury’s findings that tobacco companies sold dangerous products and concealed the dangers of smoking.

In the Broward case, Elaine Hess blames nicotine addiction for her husband Stuart’s 1997 death. The companies argue that Hess could have stopped smoking but chose to continue. Opening statements were Tuesday.

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